The Port Arthur News
BEAUMONT – First baseman Brad Picha continued his torrid hitting with a 3-for-4 day Saturday afternoon at Vincent-Beck Stadium, but Lamar University left nine runners on base in dropping a 5-4 Southland Conference baseball game to McNeese State.
The Cardinals missed opportunities to tie the game in the seventh and eighth innings. Lamar had bases loaded with two outs in the seventh, but designated hitter Seth Dornak could not deliver a hit to leave three players stranded.
In the eighth, senior Jeff Abt was thrown out at home plate by left fielder Matt Williams as he tried to score from second base on an Aaron Olivas single. Olivas also picked up three hits for the Cardinals, while center fielder Garret Autrey added two. Lamar’s 13 hits were delivered by eight different players.
The loss drops the Cardinals to 17-24 on the year, but more importantly, to 9-14 in Southland Conference games. McNeese State improved to 18-22 overall and guaranteed that it would be ahead of the Cardinals after the weekend with a 12-11 conference mark. The two teams will decide the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, Lamar cut into the Cowboys’ lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Catcher Zach Luevanos led off the inning with a walk, followed by singles from V.J. Bunner and Olivas to load the bases with no outs.
Right fielder Jude Vidrine delivered a sacrifice fly to center field that plated the Cardinals’ first run. Picha, who is 11 for his last 16, singled through the left side with two outs to score Bunner and pull the Cardinals to within a run.
The Cowboys got a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning as catcher Matt Henry reached on a throwing error by Olivas. Seth Granger then singled through the right side to put runners on the corners with one out. Henry scored on a RBI single from Nick Eubanks and Granger came home on a groundout by Williams to give the Cowboys a 5-2 lead.
Lamar would battle back with a pair of runs in the sixth inning to make it a 5-4 score, but could get no closer. Darian Johnson led off with a walk, followed by singles from Picha and Dornak that loaded the bases.
Abt hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Johnson, and Luevanos singled to right to bring home Picha. Bunner would ground into the Cardinals’ third double play of the game to end the inning.
“We did a pretty good job of coming back and a pretty good job on the
mound,” said LU head coach Jim Gilligan following the loss. “That is a very disappointing loss right there because we could’ve had a shutout today if we’d have just done our job.
“It all started with the first batter of the game dropping down a bunt that we didn’t get down on and that opened up the first inning. The throw by Olivas was high, but Picha didn’t jump for it and that opened up the 2-run inning.”
McNeese’s Renny Weber led off the game with a bunt single that got under the glove of Johnson at third. The next four Cowboys would deliver singles, including a run scoring hit from Eubanks and a 2-run single from Williams that was very close to being foul as it ran down the third base line. Williams and Eubanks combined to drive in all five of the Cowboys’ runs.
Hahn would take the loss for Lamar and drop to 1-3 on the year after allowing five runs, three earned, over 6.2 innings. The right hander allowed seven hits and struck out three. John Gilligan and Machon Trimm would work the final 2.1 innings and allow just one hit.
Tyler McDonald (3-2) started and got the win for McNeese, allowing four runs on 10 hits in 6.2 innings. Four other Cowboys pitched in the contest with Tyler Parke working the final 1.2 innings to pick up his first save of the season.